Sacrilege – Episode 40
© Adeola Nissi
Margaret paced the length of Deolu’s home while Tito sat, staring a bit too keenly at her hands as Chris held his phone to his ear. They were – all of them – locked up in different streams of thoughts. Silence reigned in the sitting room as tension filled the air like a foul repulsive odour as they waited. Waited for news, waited for…
“Deolu” Chris finally said into the silence, breaking into their thoughts. “Where on earth are you?” Chris asked, speaking into the mouthpiece of his phone. Two pairs of eyes stared back at Chris as he spoke. Margaret finally stopped her pacing to pay attention to what Chris was saying.
“I am out doing what I should be doing; trying to secure my wife’s release”
Chris took a deep breath. “Went to get the money?” he asked quietly.
There was a bit of pause on Deolu’s end. “It has been arranged. I would be meeting with them by sundown to get Laura back”
Chris shifted uncomfortably and let out a sigh. “Look, I am not comfortable with this, man. What if something goes wrong and they try to hurt either one or both of you?”
Tito got up and started pacing, she couldn’t sit still anymore.
“Nothing would go wrong” Deolu answered.
“You don’t know that!” Chris snapped and scratched his head as frustration kicked in.
“No, you listen to me” he cut in. “How do you expect unruly men to keep to their word? They asked for ten million, you give them now, they’d know you have more and definitely ask for more; we see this in movies every day. What if you give them the money and they run off without giving Laura back, there is nothing you can do. Listen, I know you care about Laura and would spend all you have to get her back if that’s what it takes but in times like this, you have to use your head and not your heart. You need backup”
Deolu was silent on the other end for a couple of seconds and Chris prayed he was at least thinking straight for once. “I don’t need backup” Chris finally heard Chris say.
His hand clenched his phone and Chris had to stipple down a growl. “God! I don’t believe this” where on earth was the friend he had known for years? “You know what? Fine. If you don’t have the balls to call the cops, maybe I will do –”
“Stop! Okay?” Deolu’s voice barked on the other end. “Don’t…” he seemed to exhale. “Listen, I want you to trust me, okay. I am handling this. Don’t put Laura in any more danger than she is already in. Just… do nothing and tell everyone that I am going to pay the money, okay?”
Chris paused as he digested the message. There seemed to be some unspoken message in Deolu’s voice and he knew Deolu well enough to know when he was hiding something. Alright, nothing had happened to the Deolu he knew afterall… he let out a small sigh of relief and mentally realized it was the wise thing to do. He was keeping things as discreet as possible and somehow, Chris was able to relax. Deolu surely wouldn’t do anything to hurt Laura in any way. “Alright, have it your way. Be careful”
The phone went dead and Chris dropped the phone from his ear. Margaret and Tito stared at him, both eyes holding unasked questions. “He would be paying the kidnappers tonight” he said.
“Oh, thank God” Margaret whispered.
Tito’s eyes snapped to her. “Thank God?” she muttered, her eyes carried a look of disbelief as she stared at Margaret before stalking around. “He can’t go all alone to meet men who are armed to the teeth, it is like throwing a lamb into the den of wolves… he could get both of them killed” she moved towards Chris. “We must report this”
The look in her eyes nearly undid him. Chris swallowed. “he begged me not to, it puts Laura at risk if things go wrong”
“but now, they would both be at risk” Tito snapped and ran her hand through her hair, a pained look in her eyes. Margaret watched them. “why do I feel like this is all my fault. I blamed him for her disappearance, he probably feels it is entirely up to him to make things right”
Chris touched her arm gently but firmly bringing her eyes back to his. “Don’t you put the blame on yourself again, I see you have a habit of doing that”
Tito shrugged out of his hand, breaking eye contact and moving away from him. The farther away from Chris she was, the better. “We have to call the cops” Tito repeated.
“And put Laura in more danger?” Margaret botted in, facing Tito arms akimbo. “don’t you see that Deolu would blame himself more if something were to go wrong because you got the police involved? Poor guy would never forgive himself for leaving her alone at the beach. And if you call the cops and something happens to Laura because of it, I am sure you would never forgive yourself”
Tito swallowed. truth is, Margaret was right. Chris had duly noted that she had the habit of putting the blames on herself. If she called the cops and something did go wrong, it would be the death of her. But was she just supposed to sit still and just watch a bunch of vagabons mess with people she cared about? She sighed and massaged her shoulder blades. God knows she would take a well deserved vacation when all these came to an end – that’s if it ever ends.
Chris however, frowned at Margaret, a different thought on his mind. He had noticed that something was off before but he hadn’t been able to put a finger on it until now. “How do you know they were at the beach?”
Margaret’s head turned to Chris, eyes wide, she stared at him as if she couldn’t comprehend what he was asking. “Uhn?”
Chris advanced towards her, holding her gaze firmly with his like a lion cornering its prey. “Laura. How do you know she was at the beach last night?” Tito stared at Margaret, not quite understanding what was going on.
Margaret shifted uncomfortably and frowned as though she was trying to remember something. “She told me, of course…” Margaret said shakily, forcing herself not to falter beneath Chris’ domineering gaze; it wasn’t an easy feat. “I… I took her to my place to get her ready for her date and she hinted to Jane and I that Deolu might be taking her to the beach”
“I see” Weird, Chris thought, wearing a frown. He seemed to remember Deolu mentioning that the beach date was a surprise to Laura. “So your sister knows about this too”
Margaret shrugged. “Jane was on the phone with her boyfriend throughout, I am not sure she heard” she answered simply. “Speaking of which, I have to get back to Tess, I left her with Jane and I know she can be more than a handful at times” Margaret looked around for her purse. Tito still could not understand what just transpired between Chris and Margaret. Was he suspicious of her? And why did Margaret seem shaky all of a sudden?
Margaret found her purse and picked it up like a trophy. “I have to go now, but please…” she looked back up at Chris, grave worry in her eyes now. “keep me posted, okay. I would try to keep others from finding out, they have enough to worry about as it is” with that, she turned and hurried towards the door, leaving Chris wondering if he had been wrong to be suspicious of her. She couldn’t be so good at pretense, could she?
Tito did not know what to make of the exchange between Chris and Margaret, something smelt odd but as Margaret rushed out of the door and she realized she would again be left alone with Chris, she yelled after her. “Wait for me, Mag”
Chris grabbed Tito’s hand as she started off. “Where are you going?”
Tito carefully collected her hand and straightened her shoulder. “I have to see my dad” she turned to go but Chris’ words stopped her again.
“I’d drop you” he turned to take his car keys.
“No!” she rushed.
Chris stared at her and took a deep breath. “Tito”
“Stop, okay? Just stop” She cut in shakily. “This… thing between us” she swished her finger between them “it has got to stop. I know that you are in love with Laura and haven’t gotten over her but I would not be a toy in your hand and let you use me to forget Laura”
“This is not about that”
Tito shook her head, a pained smile on her face. “How do you men do it? Kiss one woman so passionately and put ideas in her head when all along, another woman has your heart?”
Chris swallowed, taking a step closer to her. “Can we talk? Please”
Tito shook her head, taking two steps backwards and avoiding his gaze. “there is nothing to talk about because there is nothing between us. It is just a stupid attraction, nothing more” Her voice was barely a whisper as she spoke the words, staring at his chest with a frown on her face. “I have enough problems as it is with dad and Laura’s lives hanging in the balance, please don’t add any more complications to my life, I’ve had enough. Just leave me alone. You are better off without me anyways” she turned at that and made for the door. “You are better off alive”
Chris remained rooted to the ground, feeling something he hadn’t felt in a long time as he watched the door close behind Tito.
It had been so long teju poured her heart out to someone. So long, she had almost forgotten what it felt like to have someone really listen to her and that’s what Gloria had done for hours… listen. They had talked about her past, things she had been made to go through, horrible things at most, all in the hands of men. They had cried together, laughed together and hours later, Gloria felt more like an older friend to Teju than a mother. it was easy to see how Laura and her siblings had come to love Gloria despite the fact that she was just a step mother, the woman seemed to have only love in her heart to give to anyone who ready to accept it. Gloria had made Teju lunch. It had been almost impossible to talk her out of it, it was like Gloria was doing extra, trying to make up for the lost time with her daughter. But Teju had enjoyed it immensely. She wasn’t such a fan of cooking, she only did out of necessity but her kitchen was alive with mouth-watering aroma, she couldn’t resist salivating in anticipation. She could hardly lift a pin, Gloria had her seated on a stool in the kitchen, giving her the privilege of watching her move around the small space.
The food had been worth the wait, she couldn’t believe something so delicious had come from her own kitchen. It felt good to be alive to experience this, to taste this… Teju tried not to feel pain at the thought of the time when she wouldn’t be able to see, feel or taste anything, but the pain came nonetheless. Everything was going just fine, Teju had been amazed at how fast time had flown without her notice, until her hand clumsily dropped a plate in the sink when a small pain shot in her head.
Gloria jumped at her like something terribly worse had happened. “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Are you in pain?”
Teju shook her head, warding off the headache. “I’m fine. I’m fine” she smiled but the worry did not leave Gloria’s face, if anything, it got worse.
“No, no, you have to rest. Come”
“I’m fine, really”
Gloria wasn’t ready to listen to her as she dragged Teju out of the kitchen into the room. “You need drugs? Water?”
Teju stared up at Gloria who seemed to be sweating already, her face askew with worry. She had always found it easy to read people and as she stared at Gloria, something hit her. She would have thought it was just her pregnancy Gloria was worried about if she hadn’t seen the undisguised fear in her eyes. she froze. “You know”
“You know!” Teju surged to her feet, filled with rage. “God! I can’t believe I fell for it. So, it’s been pity all along”
“Don’t say that, I can never pity you” Gloria moved towards her but Teju held out her hand, stopping her in her strides.
“Of course, you don’t. What is this you have written all over your face then? You’ve been with me all day and you never said anything. Who told you, uhn? Laura?”
Teju stared at Gloria for a while, digesting the information. Perfect! Just perfect. She had thought she was done with Frank in her life, now she has to face the trauma of living with Frank as her father.
“Can we talk about this? Please” she pleaded. “Please”
Taking a deep breath, Teju moved to the bed and sat, resigning herself to the long painful chat ahead.
Laura looked up as the door opened. It was already dark and she was becoming increasingly scared. She was terribly hungry and thirsty and in serious need of a bath but if there was something she really needed, it had to be her freedom. Her raving and attempts to escape had gotten her series of slaps she wouldn’t forget soon. She had thought she would be able to escape when she went out to ease herself a while back but it had been impossible, not unless she risked taking a bullet in her head.
She stared at the man that came in. Finally, she didnt have to deal with the brutal kidnapper she had come to know was ‘Rogba’, the slightly gentle one that came in now was Ajayi, she wasnt even sure those names were their original names. This one hadnt been so frequent, it was like he was trying so hard to avoid her.
She remained silent, watching as Ajayi went around the room and picked up the discarded gag. She froze. “Are you gagging me again?”
He slanted her a glance, his masked face hiding his expression. “Just keep quiet, if everything goes well, you would be sleeping on your bed tonight”
That was both good news and bad news. “He is paying the ransom?” The guy was silent. “You know, you don’t have to do this. You are a good man, i know you are. You can stop this now while you have the chance, please”
He seemed to think about it.
“Hurry up” the other guy said from outside and that was all it took to cancel any change of heart Ajayi was having. Laura’s shoulders slumped in defeat as he secured the gag and the blindfold. She wouldn’t let them get away with this.
After moving discreetly around the environment, they had been able to narrow the search down to one unoccupied building. The small van beside it gave it away, including the suspicious men Felix had spotted.
“It’s time” Felix said to Deolu. “Are you ready?”
Deolu took a deep breath. “Let’s do this”
Felix nodded and touches a finger to his ear. “All stationed? Okay, let’s kick some ass”
To be continued